Identity fraud can have serious implications on both your mind and your money.
What is identity fraud?
Identity crime can take the form of either identity theft or identity fraud. Identity theft is when your personal details are stolen. Identity fraud is when those stolen details are used for the criminal’s own personal gain to commit fraud.
1. What could be the cost of identity fraud?
Currently, the average amount a victim of identity fraud is expected to lose is £1,200. The cost could be much greater than this financially and the knock on effects can be even bigger. Many hours are spent by victims trying to resolve fraud issues and the personal distress and inconvenience experienced are often unmeasurable.
More than 1 in 4 people in the UK have been a victim of identity fraud, costing them on average £1,200. 41% of all fraud committed in the UK is identity fraud. The cost of fraud to the UK in 2015 was estimated to be £3.3billion. 86% of identity frauds in 2015 were perpetrated online.
2. Do you know how valuable your identity is?
A person’s identity is one of their most valuable assets. Without it, many of the things we take for granted on a day to day basis would be impossible to do or obtain. Savings accounts, passports, driving licences, mortgages, insurance, mobile phone contracts, and social security benefits - all of these, and many more - depend on being able to prove who you are.
Name, address and date of birth provide enough information to create another ‘you’. An identity thief can use a number of methods to find out personal information and can then use it to open savings accounts or apply for a mortgage.
3. Password hints and tips
Stronger and more complex passwords will make your online accounts harder to access. There are multiple ideas about what constitutes a good password.
Here are our top 5 tips for creating a strong password:
• Use a mixture of letters, cases, numbers and symbols
• Aim to use different passwords for different accounts. Don’t just alternate between different ones
• Try using the first letters of a phrase to create your password. For example, Newbury Building Society is based in central Southern England would give you NBSibiCSE
• Don’t have a password that can be easily guessed. This might include your birthday, favourite sports team, family names or words in the dictionary
• Never keep a note of your passwords or PINs somewhere where they could be lost or stolen such as in your wallet or on your personal device.
For more information about protecting your passwords, visit https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/passwords/.
You can watch a short video on passwords by clicking on the following link: https://youtu.be/_X2tB_9GuYA
4. Be alert on the phone
Fraudsters are increasingly using phone scams to target people. These phone calls, classed as vishing, are usually an attempt to scam the user into giving out personal information that will be used to steal their identity and gain access to their money.
To help prevent yourself becoming a victim of a vishing attack, do not respond to any unsolicited phone calls. Your bank, building society or the police will never contact you to ask for your PINs, passwords or to transfer your money to a new account because of fraud reasons. They will also never send someone to your home to collect your card, passbook or cash. If any of these circumstances should happen to you, you are being targeted by a fraudster.
In this situation you should:
• Not provide any personal or financial information to anyone over the telephone
• Hang up the phone and wait for the line to clear. Do not phone any numbers that the person on the telephone has given you
• Try to use a separate phone line where possible and contact your bank or building society through a number found on official documentation that has been given to you or is on their website. Fraudsters may bug your telephone to direct any calls directly, back to them. Using a separate phone will enable you to avoid this
• Report the fraud to your bank or building society immediately.
For more information, visit https://www.financialfraudaction.org.uk/Retailer-Vishing.asp.
5. Never click on suspicious links
Never click on suspicious links – sometimes a link masks the website to which it links. If you hover over a link without clicking it, you’ll notice the full URL of the link’s destination in a lower corner of your browser.
Hover over the link below. It should take you to our website newbury.co.uk but you won’t know that until you hover over it. http://bit.ly/Pfn4UP
6. Shredding, not tearing!
One in three people do not shred their letters before throwing them away. Letters that you have thrown in the bin without shredding can often provide all the information a fraudster needs to steal your identity and commit fraud.
Information that is roughly torn could potentially be pieced back together again. If the information that they require is on that document, a fraudster would take the time to complete the puzzle. Shredding this information ensures that fraudsters are unable to gain this valuable information.
7. Use secure websites
Use secure websites when completing financial transactions – a secure website's URL should begin with “https” rather than “http”. The “s” at the end of “http” stands for secure and is using an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) connection.
8. Young victims of identity fraud
People of all ages can be at risk of identity fraud but with growing numbers of young people falling victim, CIFAS (formally the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance Service) is calling for better education around fraud and financial crime. In 2016, CIFAS reported a 52% rise in identity fraud that was targeted at people under 30. ‘Data to Go’ was launched online to raise awareness of this type of fraud.
9. Checking your credit reports
You should regularly check you financial statements and credit reports carefully and report anything suspicious to your provider quickly.
Your credit report is one of the first places you are likely to see if someone is falsely using your identity before you suffer any financial loss. You should review all the entries on your credit report for any accounts or even credit searches from a company that you know you have not made contact with. Notify the credit reference agency immediately.
10. Forwarding mail
When you move house it is important that you let all providers that contact you by post know you have moved. Be sure to notify your bank, building society, credit card company and any other companies you deal with as soon as possible. Set up a redirection with Royal Mail for at least a year to ensure no mail is being sent to your old address. This may contain personal information that you don’t want to fall into the hands of a stranger.
11. Be alert online
You should be careful about the amount of information you share online. As the internet and social media is an ever growing presence in modern life where information is often shared freely and not securely, fraudsters look to online profiles for the information they require to steal an identity.
You wouldn’t leave a bank statement with your name, address and date of birth for a fraudster to find, so why make this information freely available online? Only make the minimal amount of information available on profiles such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
12. CIFAS top 5 tips
CIFAS, the leaders in fraud protection, have set up a campaign to help people understand the growing threat of identity fraud in the UK. Their five top tips are:
• Be careful who you give your personal information to and how
• Make it as difficult as possible to crack your personal passwords
• Always destroy or securely store personal documents
• Don’t respond to unsolicited phone calls or emails
• Protect your personal devices.
13. All you need to know about Conveyancing Fraud
Conveyancing Fraud is resulting in huge losses for house buyers. People involved in house purchases are being targeted to transfer their money to bank accounts under the control of fraudsters.
Fraudsters achieve this by sending a fake email, which can appear identical to authentic versions, informing the buyer(s) that bank account details have changed at the last minute and that money should be placed into a different account. The new account is controlled by the fraudster, resulting in financial losses for the house-buyer(s) or solicitor involved.
There are ways to stop conveyancing fraud happening to you. The most important thing is not to feel pressured into changing bank details. Question it. Check the email address carefully and if in doubt, phone to check the information you have been sent is correct.
Here are some other ways which could protect you from Conveyancing Fraud:
• Avoid using public Wi-Fi systems to check emails when you are purchasing a house. These systems can be quite vulnerable and easy for a fraudster to hack into
• Resist the temptation to update your status on social media sites about buying/selling or getting a mortgage
• Use strong passwords for your accounts and ensure you have anti-virus software installed on all your devices
• Agree that any changes in bank details during the conveyancing process will be made in person only.
If you need to report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use their online fraud reporting tool (www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud). You will receive a police crime reference number.
You can also receive accurate information about scams and fraud in your area by email, recorded voice and text message, by signing up for FREE at www.actionfraud.police.uk/support-and-prevention/sign-up-to-action-fraud-alert.
14. Did you know?
Some organisations believe it can take over 200 hours of a person’s or business’s time to try and fix the fall out caused when you are a victim of identity theft.
15. NBS will never…
Ask for your online passwords or memorable information over the phone and through email. Keep this information safe and do not share it with anyone.
16. Helping businesses to protect their identity
The identity of a business is as important as an individual’s identity and businesses lose out on millions of pounds every year from corporate identity theft. A stolen business identity could result in needing to repair poor credit ratings, correcting false information on public records as well as rebuilding confidence and relationships with customers and suppliers.
To help protect your business identity you should regularly check the information held with Companies House and the information you allow to be shared in the public domain. Where you have been a victim of corporate identity theft, or want to protect your business further, Companies House run a Protected Filing service. For more information about protected filing with Companies House visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/protect-your-company-from-corporate-identity-theft.
17. Update anti-virus software
Keep your anti-virus software updated – additional protection on your computer may stop a virus enabling a fraudster to access the personal information held on your computer.
18. CIFAS Protective Registration
If you have been a victim of identity theft or have lost documents or devices containing your personal information, you may wish to take out Protective Registration with CIFAS. This will give you an additional way to try and protect your identity being misused again in the future.
The service is available for both individuals and organisations. It works by placing a warning flag against your name and other personal details in the National Fraud Database. Organisations that use the databases will then know you have been a victim. Knowing you're at risk, they carry out extra checks to make sure it's really you applying and not a fraudster using your details. For a small fee, you could prevent your information being used wrongfully.
At the Society we use the information provided on the database to ensure we can identify any customers that use CIFAS Protective Registration service. Visit https://www.cifas.org.uk/pr for more information.
19. All you need to know about Holiday Fraud
Summer has arrived and Britain has been basking in hot temperatures, resulting in a record-breaking 7.3million people opting for a staycation so far this year (according to Express.co.uk). With the English weather unpredictable at best, it might not be long before the weather changes and people are looking for last minute holiday deals, exposing them to travel booking frauds.
Bogus travel companies are plentiful no matter what time of year, with fraudsters attempting to lure potential customers with cheap flights that don’t exist, low price holidays and one-time-only great deals, requesting payment by direct bank transfer.
Protect yourself. If you are paying for a holiday, use a credit card – it offers increased protection. Why? The Consumer Credit Act ensures credit cards provide protection for purchases above £100 and below £30,000, so if the company that’s sold you something goes bust, or if an item you have bought is broken and the supplier won’t sort things out, you can still get a refund. Debit cards do not offer this protection.
There are other ways which could protect you from Holiday Fraud:
• Resist responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails offering holidays at low prices
• Look for the ‘https’ and locked padlock icon in the address bar before entering your payment details
• Don’t feel pressured into making a booking; take your time to do your research and ensure the company you are booking with is reputable
• If booking through a travel company, why not check with the hotel/airline that your booking does exist?
If you have been affected by holiday fraud, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk